LeBron James’ health will be one of the critical factors determining the outcome of the 2022-23 season for the Los Angeles Lakers.
Shortly after his appointment, new Lakers head coach Darvin Ham said lessening James’ workload will be his No. 1 goal next year. The All-Star forward carried an overwhelming amount of weight on his shoulders in the past two years, which seemingly took a toll on his body.
Since joining the Lakers, James has played 60 games in a season just once — during the 2019-20 title-winning campaign. Last year, the four-time NBA champion watched 26 games from the sidelines, missing eight of the Purple and Gold’s last 10 matchups with an ankle issue.
But the injury doesn’t seem to bother the 37-year-old anymore, he told ESPN’s Dave McMenamin during his first Drew League appearence in 11 years:
“I’m 100 percent healthy,” James told ESPN during the first half of action.
James teamed up with Chicago Bulls star DeMar DeRozan to lead their MMV Cheaters team to a 104-102 victory over the Black Pearl Elite. The Lakers All-Star scored 42 points, shooting 18-for-36 (50%) from the field and 2-for-13 (15.4%) from downtown. James also ended up with 16 rebounds, four steals, and three assists.
Lakers trade target Kyrie Irving was expected to play in one of the Drew League games that day but didn’t show up. Instead, Irving was seen working with participants of a girls’ basketball skills camp organized by L.A.’s assistant coach, Phil Handy.
Handy and Irving worked together on the Cleveland Cavaliers for five years between 2013-2018.
Optimism remains that Lakers will acquire Irving
Although the Irving trade saga has dragged on, the latest reports claim there’s still optimism among some players that the 30-year-old playmaker will move to L.A. this summer.
The San Antonio Spurs have reportedly signaled readiness to facilitate the deal by taking on Russell Westbrook’s salary in exchange for an unprotected first-round pick.
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